The structure of traditional metal braces makes it possible for harmful bacteria to thrive in hard-to-reach areas between the brackets and wires. Failure to pay attention to dental care while wearing braces may cause permanent damage to the teeth. The progress of decay usually goes like this:
- First, food debris get trapped in the little spaces around the wires
- The bacteria in the mouth and food combine and multiply
- The bacteria cause plaque
- The plaque causes enamel erosion
- Cavities form
The teeth are not only threatened here, but patients are also predisposed to gum disease (gingivitis) that can quickly worsen into periodontitis and potential bone recession and tooth loss.
Brace wearers need to pay extra attention to their dental health during orthodontic treatment. Braces create complications because it is hard for a toothbrush and floss to get into the areas blocked by wires and brackets. The brackets and wires can also cause gum irritation and swelling, a condition called hyperplasia. This further makes oral hygiene hard and increases the threat of infection.
If the swelling is caused by hyperplasia, treatment can be stalled until it is time to remove the braces, provided there is no case of gum recession from the teeth. If there is, a visit to the periodontist (gum expert) may be necessary for further examination. In severe cases, removing the braces may be required to treat the underlying gum disease.
Dental care with braces
To prevent the oral infections caused by plaque, you should brush and floss your teeth twice daily. You should also visit the dentist's office for biannual cleaning to get rid of plaques and tartar (hardened plaques). Brushing and flossing while wearing braces requires extra time and effort, but it is worth the trouble if you want to prevent issues.
Interproximal brushes that fit between the gaps in the teeth and special floss threaders are recommended for brace wearers. You can also opt for a water flosser, made up of high-pressure water spray designed to clean plaque between the teeth.
It takes more time and effort to brush and floss effectively while wearing braces. But it is necessary to prevent these problems. Interproximal brushes (which fit in the spaces between teeth) can help, as well as special floss threaders. You might also consider a water flosser, which uses a high-pressure water spray to remove plaque between teeth.
Watch your consumables
Brace wearers are advised to pay attention to their intake of acidic meals and drinks. Although certain acidic meals (such as oranges, raspberries and tomatoes) are healthy, it is better to replace them with less-acidic meals with the same nutrient composition. Beverages such as soda and sports drinks are harmful because they contain both acid and sugar.
As much as possible, avoid sticky, sugary meals that stick to the braces. Foods high in carbohydrates are also sources of sugar and can be unhealthy for your teeth.
Just as visiting the orthodontist for adjustments and supervision is necessary as a brace wearer, you also need to continue visiting your regular dentist, especially if you start noticing irregularities in your gums and teeth. Conditions such as gum inflammation, bleeding and swelling require immediate dental attention.
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